Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Comic Book Wednesday #7 - Hack/Slash review

Comic Book Wednesday

Issue #7

Nothing on my pull list came out today, which is weird for me. I've been on a bit of a TPB binge, though, so I have a lot to pick from. I've been reading Brubaker's Captain America trades, a lot of Geoff Johns' DC stuff, and some other various assorted bits of awesomry. We're going to skip out on the superheroes for a week, though, and focus on a girl. A girl with an attitude. A girl with an attitude and a big fuckin' bat.

Series Review
Part 1

Tim Seeley's Hack/Slash is simply the finest horror comic currently being published. It's scary, it's hilarious, it embraces the camp factor without ever compromising the human story, it's sexy without being gratuitous (plot-wise... some of the covers are admittedly a bit much), it's current while still commenting on the all-time horror classics, and it's overall a consistently great story with mostly consistently great art.

I've read the first two omnibuses, so that's all I'll be able to comment on. These things are giant, high quality books that don't suffer from what I've found a lot of giant paperback graphic novels do... the tendency to crack and spit out pages as soon as you open the book. I plan to reread these collections over and over, and I'm very impressed with the quality. The first two have comprehensive cover galleries and profiles for all of the villains. While I haven't read the third, I noticed that it's way shorter on extras but a bit meatier on content, which is fine. Point is, the collects are giant, beautiful, well-made, and affordable. If you're planning on getting into Hack/Slash, this is the way.

Now, the story. Imagine all movie slashers live in one universe. That is the world that Cassie Hack lives in. She was the proverbial Girl That Survives The Slasher And Goes On To Live Life after her mother went crazy, killed a bunch of kids, proceeded to commit suicide, and then come back as a slasher. Cassie is bitter. Outwardly angry, even, and she takes that out on the slashers that she hunts with her partner Vlad, a hulking man who is often mistaken for a monster by the people around them. While Cassie is one of the baddest badasses in comic books, she's also vulnerable and innocent in many ways, which proves for a nice dichotomy. Like all good genre fiction, the cool monsters and the hunts don't take center stage here. Cassie's relationship with Vlad, her personal history, and her journey toward finding who she is as a girl make up the real meat of Hack/Slash.

Possibly because of that, there have been a lot of comparisons between Hack/Slash and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'm not going to lie; that's one of the reasons I picked the book up in the first place. Whedonesque is synonymous for "I want to read the shit out of this." Most of the folks that follow this blog know me from either writing about Buffy and Angel or having written for Angel, so let me tell you guys: While Hack/Slash is in absolutely no way derivative, it has the attention to character and love for snarky dialogue that made Buffy so watchable. However, I've found that Whedon fans tend to go apeshit when women are sexualized in comics, but I personally find nothing gratuitous about Hack/Slash (nor did I find anything gratuitous about Spike's harem Angel: After the Fall, which a lot of people flipped needless shits about), but that's just me.

To dispense with the Buffy comparisons, let me reiterate: Hack/Slash is a fine horror comic. It's a fine creator owned comic. The concept is fresh, the execution is insanely good, and the characters are badass and easy to root for. It's everything that horror comics should be, but tend to not be.

Volume One is a collection of the earliest Hack/Slash stories, which are mostly one-shots that show Cassie and Vlad hunting slashers. Along the way, a few supporting players are introduced, but not much in the way of a continuing storyline is developed in the first omnibus. Volume Two, however, takes the threads set up in Volume One and weaves them into a complex and thrilling story arc that shows the government trying to deal with slashers, introduces my favorite character (a talking demon dog from a Hell dimension named Pooch), has Cassie grappling with her personal life and her duty as a slasher hunter (and maybe her sexuality, a bit), and delves into our heroine's past in a tragic, smart way. Also, there are badass monsters and chicks who fight them.

Can't beat that.

Future awesome: I've seen most of the covers, even for the issues I haven't read yet... and the always talented Jenny Frison has been doing brilliant covers for this series. Who is better than Jenny at covers? Who? Not that guy. Nope, not her either.

More future awesome: I just started reading the third volume, and it starts with Pooch trying to take a shit in the backyard while his master eggs him on. Pooch says, "Master, I cannot expunge my vile wastes while you command your humble Pooch." AH!

Even more future awesome: Your life will be better if you buy this book. Unless you happen to be an undead murderer bent on targeting couples and/or folks you think are sinning. Because, yeah. You're in trouble.

TOMORROW: PART ONE of my interview with SUPERGIRL writer Kelly Sue DeConnick goes up!

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